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If you’re anything like me, you love the idea of meal prepping but hate spending hours in the kitchen on a Sunday.
Meal prepping is the best way to make sure you are eating healthy, saving money, and having more time for yourself! Your body will thank you too.
That’s why I’ve got 23 quick and easy meal prep tips for you that can help you on your journey to a better life.
23 Best Meal Prep Tips to Save Time and Money
1. Keep it simple to start
Meal prep can be easy, but it does take some practice to get the hang of things.
Keep your recipes simple and familiar to you for at least a couple of weeks while you master the best meal prep process.
Start small by planning just a few meals for the upcoming week and add a few more each week as you become better at prepping.
2. Utilize your kitchen gadgets
Not all meal prep requires batch cooking, but some of it will.
One way to make this process easier is to use your kitchen gadgets to get the job done quickly and easily. For example:
- A slow cooker can save you time if you’re busy during the day! Just place your ingredients in the slow cooker, then turn on low for 6-8 hours, and come home to a meal that’s ready to serve.
- A rice cooker might be your best friend! Just add water and rice, turn it on, go about your day, and come back to perfectly cooked rice.
- An instant pot is another fantastic kitchen gadget. It can replace a slow cooker and your ability to boil pasta, make soups, or cook your meat!
- Sheet pan meals are a simple way to prepare multiple types of foods at once.
- One pot recipes are an excellent time saver for busy people who don’t like to spend much time cleaning up.
3. Keep track of your favorite recipes
As you start meal prepping and create your meal plan, it’s important to keep track of the recipes you love. This way, when it comes time to prep again next week or month, you’ve got a whole list full of fantastic options to pick from!
4. Consider each food group
When you’re prepping your meals, it’s essential to make sure each food group is balanced. A good rule of thumb for a balanced meal is one part protein, one part vegetables, and two parts whole-grain carbohydrates.
5. Find ingredient overlaps
It’s a tip that many people may not know about, but it can save you time and a lot of money while meal prepping.
When meal planning, try to find ingredients that overlap. If you’re making rice for taco bowls, and you know you have a stir fry on the meal plan.
Double up the quantity, so you have enough for both meals. It saves you washing and time! Bonus, leftover rice is better for stir-frying too!
6. Invest in storage containers
Another tip I highly recommend is to invest in some high-quality meal prep containers. Glass containers are perfect for soups and tomato-based products.
Containers that are airtight, microwavable, and BPA-free will keep your food fresh for much longer and make the meal prep process more manageable as a result.
7. Go freezer-friendly
Freezer-friendly meal prep items are a great way to save money.
They’re also suitable for busy people who don’t have time to stop by the grocery store every couple of days!
It also allows you to cook in large batches, freeze for later, and eat the same meal for multiple days. Not only you’ll be saving time and money but also reducing waste – always a good thing to do.
8. Plan ahead
Planning is a great way to save money and time. It’s also a good habit to get into because it often makes you more productive.
Depending on your health goals, you should spend time researching and brainstorming to think about dishes you want to eat for the next week.
Spending 10-15 minutes planning and writing it down on a piece of paper (or notepad of your phone) will help you stay focused.
9. Pick versatile ingredients
Meat, eggs, beans, and some vegetables are the most versatile ingredients you can use in meal prep.
They will help make your meal prep a lot easier because you’ll be able to combine various dishes with them.
10. If you’re trying out a new recipe, stick to the normal amount
Are you making a new recipe that you may not have tried before?
The golden rule is to stick to the same number of servings you’d eat in one sitting. Otherwise, if you don’t end up liking it, you save yourself wasting it or eating it again.
11. Make a shopping list and get your groceries in bulk
Make a list of everything you need and then go to the store.
Try to get all the ingredients in bulk; it’s cheaper, and you don’t need to worry about running out during the week.
Another tip is to organize your shopping list in order of where you will find the items in the grocery store. It’ll make your trip to the store quick and prevent you from roaming around, which can lead to impulsive buying!
12. Wash and prep your fruits and vegetables right away
It’s a good habit to get into and can save you time later on.
Wash and cut your fruits and veggies as soon as possible, especially if you live in a city or somewhere with little open space; this is easy peasy and takes no more than 20 min top!
13. Pick a prep day (or two)
Pick a day or two that you’ll devote time to meal prepping. It’s easy if you have an entire weekend, but any day is fine too!
Try to spread out the meals over two days of the week so that you’re eating fresher and not having to cook too much food at the same time
14. Stay organized
Staying organized is vital here because your best meal-prep quest will be much easier.
It includes labeling all of your food containers with the date they are prepared and keeping track of all of your recipes.
It’s good to organize your pantry, freezer, and kitchen to know precisely where everything is.
15. Choose easy recipes
Since you’re going to be prepping a lot of meals at once, keep them manageable. Recipes with minimal prep time are ideal then you can quickly make a bunch of recipes at once.
Try to stick to cooking recipes that are easy yet efficient in terms of time and money spent.
16. Remember the rule of three (1+1+1)
If you’re planning on cooking large dishes, remember to use one protein, one starchy carb, and one fresh produce.
An example of this is if you’re cooking a main dish containing chicken, then stick with rice or potatoes as your carbohydrate option and vegetables for the green choices!
You can adjust portion size as per your nutritional requirements, but for a healthy body, it’s essential to get all three along with some fat.
17. Think about cooking time
If you have some dishes that take longer to cook, then make sure you get those done first before turning your attention to something with less cooking time.
This way, once you have a recipe simmering away, you can turn your attention to your next recipe.
18. Chop veggies ahead of time
It may be an obvious tip, but you can save time chopping veggies if you do it in advance.
After that, you can store them in Tupperware containers, so the next time you want to cook a dish, you can start using the chopped vegetables and fruits right away.
These are also great for snacking when you’re hungry, preventing you from eating other processed foods.
19. Portion Your Meals
Make sure you portion your meals accordingly to avoid accidentally overeating. Keep them in separate containers labeled in the fridge.
20. Keep the basics on hand
Having all the basics on hand like salt, pepper, olive oil, butter, garlic, and spices is such a time-saver.
You will want to have some of these basics on hand when you are cooking.
- Salt – It is the most common seasoning and adds flavor to food.
- Pepper – This spice helps with spiciness and gives flavor.
- Olive oil – This oil is healthier than butter or margarine.
- Garlic – Garlic is a very common ingredient in recipes and lasts a long time in the fridge.
21. Learn to multitask
Of course, cooking is a time-consuming activity!
However, learning to multitask will make the task faster and more efficient.
Multitasking can come in the form of prepping food while you wait for other dishes to cook or vice versa.
You don’t need to stand next to the pot on the stove and watch it cook.
Learn to incorporate multitasking into your meal prepping, and you’ll get the job done in half the time!
22. Cut corners, prep smarter
Try to cut corners without sacrificing nutrition by using shortcuts such as buying frozen veggies.
You can also buy pre-chopped, fresh vegetables, especially when they are in peak season and cost less money!
Remember, you don’t have to do everything or stick to someone else’s instructions. The primary goal of meal planning is your convenience, so always prioritize that and feel free to adjust recipes when needed.
23. Change it up! Don’t use the same recipe every week
You can also try using different ingredients that you have on hand, prepare new recipes, or changing cooking methods.
Just because you’re doing meal planning doesn’t mean the food has to be boring!
If anything, it’s going to help you try new foods and expand your knowledge of cooking in general. Just make sure not to cook huge batches on your first try!
Meal prepping can seem like a daunting task, especially if it’s done for the first time.
A great way to get started is by following these steps to get better at meal prepping:
1. Set realistic goals
2. Be open to experimenting
3. Pick the most convenient time for you
4. Prepare your ingredients
5. Ask for help
6. Be patient through the process
There is no fixed proper way to meal prep as the process will vary based on your nutritional demand and personality. But, there are a few common goals that every meal prepper wants to achieve:
1. Saving money
2. Reducing the time you spend on grocery shopping
3. Spending less time in the kitchen
4. Getting the right amount of nutrition
Meal prepping generally lasts 3-5 days in the fridge, depending on the type of food you are storing. Some food can last for a week, but for most recipes will last 3-5 days.
So, if your meal prep has been in the fridge for longer than expected, then it’s time to clear out and throw it away in the trash.
As long as you stay organized and motivated, meal prep is a breeze! It saves you a ton of time on your day-to-day. Stick with some of these 23 best meal prep tips, and you’ll be ready to get started today!
For some delicious recipes to add to your meal plan, check out these healthy meal prep ideas.
Richmond Howard started Meal Prepify in 2019 and has helped over a million people learn how to meal prep, get better at meal planning, and create a kitchen they love to use. He’s an avid home chef and loves to bbq, grill out, and make awesome food for family and friends. He’s been featured on MSN, Renaissance Periodization, and Good Financial Cents.